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Sustainable Cities

part of the greening the economy series


How can we shape urban development towards sustainable and prosperous futures?


This course explores sustainable cities as engines for greening the economy. It places cities in the context of sustainable urban transformation and climate change. Sustainable urban transformation refers to structural transformation processes – multi-dimensional and radical change – that can effectively direct urban development towards ambitious sustainability and climate goals. 

The course connects the key trends of urbanization, decarbonisation and sustainability and examines visions, experiments and innovations in urban areas. It also looks at practices (what is happening in cities at present) and opportunities (what are the possibilities for cities going forwards into the future).

The course is built on a collection of diverse short films and key short readings on sustainable cities as well as interactive forums and a practical assignment to create an online learning community.

Moreover, it provides key examples of activities to promote sustainable cities in Scandinavia, Europe and around the world. In doing so, it showcases films and reports by WWF, the Economist Intelligence Unit, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, UN-Habitat, C40 Climate Leadership Group, Arup, Sustainia, the Rockefeller Foundation, and ongoing research projects. 

Week 1: Sustainable Urban Transformation. This week explains why cities are strategically important to sustainable development, climate change and greening the economy and the concept of sustainable urban transformation is presented as a foundation for understanding urban change processes. Special focus is given to activities related to energy, mobility and buildings. 

Week 2: Infrastructure and Planning. In this week you learn about the role of urban infrastructure and planning in creating sustainable cities and greening the economy and the role of building standards in shaping sustainable cites. Examples are presented together with a discussion on the business, technical and social implications of sustainable urban development. 

Week 3: Urban Living Labs. This week presents discusses urban living labs including the engagement, exploration, experiments, evaluation and entrepreneurs. urban innovation and experimentation. Examples are presented on international collaboration between local governments and urban experiments on decarbonisation.

Week 4: Future Urban Visions. This week examines how visioning processes can shape policies and plans for sustainable cities, both among individuals and organisations.

Week 5: Sustainable Urban Lifestyles. In this week we discuss how local governments can influence urban lifestyles and the creation of sustainable cities and how the sharing economy practices and organisations. the emerging concept of smart sustainable cities and how the internet of things can underpin urban sustainability.


This course is produced by Lund University in cooperation with WWF and ICLEI.

  • In total 30 films and 4 instructors.
  • 5 weeks duration, approximately 5 hours of course work per week.
  • You may transfer to later sessions to extend the course.




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